Birthplace: Morrow Bottom, AR
Paul "Bear" Bryant acquired the nickname "Bear" because, as a teen-ager he wrestled a circus bear. At Alabama he was an end on the 1933-35 teams. Bryant started his coaching career as an assistant at Alabama 1936-39 and Vanderbilt 1940-41. He was in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Bryant was head coach at Maryland one year 1945, Kentucky eight years 1946-53, Texas A&M four years 1954-57, and Alabama 25 years 1958-82. His record at each school: Maryland 6-2-1, Kentucky 60-23-5, Texas A&M 25-14-2, Alabama 232-46-9. His career total for 38 years: 323-85-17. His 1950 Kentucky team won the school's first conference championship and knocked off Oklahoma 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl, ending Oklahoma's 31-game winning streak. Bryant's 1956 Texas A&M team won the Southwest Conference. Before he became head coach at Alabama, the school had won just four games in the three years. Bryant won five games his first year, made a bowl his second year, and was national champion his fourth year. He won six national championships - 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979. His Alabama teams played in a bowl 24 straight years. When Alabama beat Auburn 28-17 on Nov. 28,1981, it was his 315th win. This topped A.A. Stagg's 314 wins and Bryant was saluted as the all-time winningest coach in college football. On Dec. 29, 1982, Alabama beat Illinois 21-15. He previously had announced this would be his last game as a coach. This gave him 323 victories. He died Jan. 26, 1983, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama less than a month after his final game. In 1997 the U.S. Postal Service issued the 32-cent Bear Bryant stamp.
University of Alabama